Family Physician of the Year
John F. McCarthy, MD
Dr. John McCarthy demonstrates a remarkable blend of clinical excellence, community service, and professional leadership. Based on personal values, professionalism, and the wisdom of a country doctor, John quests to do the right things for the right reasons. Patients come first, future physicians come second, and family is always at the center.
Dr. McCarthy grew up in Tacoma. He received his BS in Biology at Santa Clara, where he was selected as "Homecoming Princess". (This is absolutely true!) He later received his MA in Counseling from Gonzaga in 1985, followed by counseling work in Alaska. He completed his MD at UWSOM in 1990, followed by residency at Tacoma Family Medicine, a program focused on care for rural and underserved patients. For the next 14 years John practiced full spectrum rural family medicine with a small group in the Okanogan community of Tonasket, and provided service to outreach clinics in the tiny community of Oroville as well. Loved by both communities, he was known by his patients as the one who delivered their babies, treated their work injuries, performed preventative exams, (and with a subspecialist), journeyed with them through serious illness. Employing his counseling skills as a caring family physician and advocate, John developed a practical, direct, yet loving approach to steer his patients toward optimal health.
As a practice member he was known for efficiency. He exhibited an amazing ability to take calls, add patients in a moment’s notice, and zero in on their issues without getting behind. As a strong advocate of the medical team, he embodied much of Open Access and the Medical Home before most had ever heard of the concepts
Dr. McCarthy also relishes his role as a teacher. Medical students who did clinical training with him in Tonasket were exceedingly lucky. Not only did he model rural medicine of the highest quality, but by housing students in his home, he also showed them that a busy practice could still leave room for a vibrant and healthy family life. His energy is unflagging. Occasionally a student would bring their bicycle along on the rotation. If they were a strong cyclist, John and the student would finish a long day, round at the hospital, and then take a 12 mile bike ride home together to dinner. Twelve miles—2500 feet of elevation gain!
In 2007, Dr. McCarthy and his family moved to Spokane to begin the next phase of his career as a residency faculty member at Family Medicine Spokane. He became a gifted teacher. In 2008, he was appointed as the Assistant Dean of Regional Affairs for the Central and Southeastern WWAMI Program, and thrived in this position. Indeed generations of UW medical students chose family medicine and entered a rural practice as a direct result of working with him. Many young family physicians identify John as a primary inspiration for their specialty choice, sharing that he is, "the physician they want to be when they grow up"
Dr. McCarthy’s practice life has been augmented by his participation with the WAFP. He joined the academy in 1990 and has served as trustee, alternate delegate, and delegate to the AAFP Congress of Delegates, president of the WAFP in 2009 – 2010, and most recently as president of the WAFP Foundation.
In summary, John has been described as "a doctor’s doctor", "the quintessential teacher of family medicine," and "a dedicated leader of family physicians." The WAFP is privileged to have Dr. John McCarthy as an esteemed, active member, and pleased to honor him as the 2012 Family Physician of the Year.
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